If mothers are not going be reliant on analgesia for pain relief they need options to help them cope with the pain to allow a physiological labour to unfold.
Studies have shown that women who use a water birth pool need to have fewer painkillers, experience fewer interventions and give birth to stronger babies.
Immersion in warm water has been unequivocally proven to be of great benefit both physiologically and psychologically.
Women who enter a warm pool of water in established labour with strong contractions find that they are able to cope with the pain and have a natural birth.
Women have a greater sense of fulfilment and accomplishment and babies experience a non-traumatic birth.
The calming, relaxing effect of the warm water promotes the flow of oxytocin, a powerful hormone that plays a huge role in childbirth, causing the uterus to contract and triggering the ‘fetal ejection reflex’.
Michel Odent has expounded upon the beneficial physiological effect that immersion in water during labour has on hormone secretion, including observations that women entering warm water experience oxytocin surges which can advance dilation and stimulate contractions (Odent 2014).
Increasing normal births is associated with shorter (or no) hospital stays, fewer adverse incidents and admissions to neonatal unit and better health outcomes for mothers.
It is also associated with higher rates of successful breastfeeding and a more positive birth experience.
These changes benefit not only women and their families but also maternity staff.
Midwives are able to spend less time on non-clinical tasks and more on caring for women and their babies.
Aside from the obvious benefits to mothers and babies, midwives experience greater job satisfaction and hospitals save money and optimise resources from the reduced use of analgesia, medical intervention and shorter hospital stays.